A Missing Balance

What question arises when you think of the concept of God forgiving you? There are two errors that I think we easily make that, if we are not careful, will warp our understanding of the grace of God. And if we mess this up, we will either find ourselves crushed with guilt or destroyed by presumption.

 

Consider the question of whether or not God should forgive you? If your answer is an automatic, “Of course God should forgive me,” there may be a problem. If you doubt even the potential need for forgiveness, there is a huge problem.

 

On the other hand, if your response is a thought that God could never forgive you, your problem is just as big as the person who thinks they need no forgiveness. And if you think that you have to do a lot of work to earn forgiveness from God, you are tragically misled.

 

Psalm 130:3-4

 

3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

4 But with you there is forgiveness,

that you may be feared.

 

Look at these two verses from the Psalm side-by-side. They give us the balance we need. Verse 3 shows us how desperate we are for forgiveness. We are sinners. WE need grace. If God is not merciful to us, we are dead. There is no way out. We have no excuses we can make. Left to ourselves, we are without hope. WE must know this if we are going to get a relationship with God right.

 

But then verse 4 comes in and marks the forgiveness of God. He is merciful. He is gracious. He is willing, even eager, to forgive those who repent of sin and turn to him in faith. That is why he sent Jesus.

 

Put those two concepts together, and you will have a right view of our need for grace. WE are hopeless on our own. That keeps us from the presumptuous view that God obviously must forgive us no matter what. But the look at verse 4 shows us that God is merciful, which keeps us from the fear that we could never be forgiven, no matter what. That balance is key to right thinking. And if we get it right, we approach God humbly, confessing our sin, and seeking his mercy in Christ.

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